Delta

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Delta operates a daily flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu and back on a 767 with flat beds in Business Class. Surprisingly, the flight actually has decent award space, and you can book it for 30,000 miles one way or 45,000 miles roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 2.09.59 PM

That’s a steal since Delta wants 50,000 SkyMiles one way for the flight.

I talked about United’s flat bed award space to Hawaii from the East Coast yesterday.

The Flights

The flights to look for are DL611 and DL612.

The flight from Los Angeles leaves at 8:30 AM, too early for most (all?) connections.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.08.22 PM

 

The flight from Honolulu is a day flight that lands in time for redeye connections to the East Coast and possibly other nearby connections.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.16.00 PM

 

You know that these flights feature flat beds because of the flat bed icon next to “View Seats.” You can also check by clicking View Seats. This 1-2-1 layout is the layout of Delta’s flat bed Business Class.

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Award Search

You can search awards space on delta.com very easily. You’ll want your search to look something like this.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.07.15 PM

Here’s how to interpret the results calendar:

  • Every day that says “50,000” has award space in flat beds
  • Some days that say “40,000” have award space in flat beds

So in this calendar, the eight days that say “50,000” have at least one award seat in a flat bed. The two days that say “40,000” may. We will need to click on them to find out.
Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.07.21 PM

 

The reason this works is that although Delta deleted its award chart, it still uses the prices on them. The Level 1 price for Delta flat bed Business Class to Hawaii is 50,000 miles. The Level 1 price for Delta recliner First Class is 40,000 miles and Level 2 is 55,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.12.06 PM

Putting aside the weirdness that Delta Business Class is better than Delta First Class, the only seats that can be priced at 50,000 miles are flat beds.

Booking the Award

Don’t use Delta miles to book flat beds to Hawaii. Delta charges 50,000 SkyMiles one way and 100,000 roundtrip for its Level 1 award space. Any award space that prices out like that is equally available to partners, and some of Delta’s partners charge way fewer miles.

30,000 Flying Blue Miles One Way (40% off)

Air France Flying Blue charges 30,000 miles one way for this award space.

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The only problem is that if you search airfrance.us for award space from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the option to search Business and First Class disappear.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.12.28 PMFor the most part, the Business Class award space shows up anyway. If space you found on delta.com doesn’t show up online in the search results, book with Flying Blue miles by calling 800-375-8723. I priced out this roundtrip in flat beds online for 60,000 Flying Blue miles + $11.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.18.38 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.18.45 PM

Flying Blue miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points. The transfer takes about 4.5 days, and there is one wrinkle to transfers, that I had to add 00 before my Flying Blue account number.

You can earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points from the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, each after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Or you can get both cards for 100,000 bonus ThankYou Points. That’s almost two roundtrips to Hawaii in flat beds.

45,000 Korean Miles Roundtrip (55% Off)

Even better if you want to fly a roundtrip, Korean SkyPass charges 45,000 miles roundtrip for this award space. You cannot book one way SkyTeam awards with Korean miles.

You will have to call 800-438-5000 to book the award.

The cool thing is that you get two stopovers, in addition to the destination, on roundtrip SkyTeam awards. That means you could stopover in Los Angeles both ways to fly the flat beds even though the flight times are not good for same day connections. Or you could stopover in Los Angeles one way and somewhere else on the return.

Korean miles are a 1:1 instant transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, and a 1:1 (or 20,000:25,000) non-instant transfer partner of SPG Starpoints.

Connections

Flying to Hawaii, I don’t think same day connections are available, since the flight leaves at 8:30 AM. Flying to the mainland, there are definitely connections available that would cost zero extra Delta, Air France, or Korean miles. Connecting to any Business Class Level 1 award space on delta.com should cost zero extra miles.

Theoretically you could connect to a flat bed from Los Angeles to New York for zero extra miles, but in practice, there is no Level 1 award space (would show up as “32,500” one the chart.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.22.35 PM

Bottom Line

Delta flies once daily Los Angeles <-> Honolulu with a plane with flat beds. The space is good in those flat beds and can be booked for 30,000 miles one way or 45,000 miles roundtrip, which is 40% to 55% less than Delta charges for the same award space.

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Update 8/20/15: Delta now advertises this fare sale and says the deals must be booked by tomorrow August 21, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.45.16 PM

This page also lists some of the fare sale city pairs, though definitely not all.

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Yesterday, Delta started selling awards to Europe for 21,000 miles each way in economy and 43,500 miles each way in Business Class. These are huge discounts off the “normal” price of 30,000 miles each way in economy and 62,500 miles each way in Business Class. (Though “normal” is tough to say since Delta deleted its award charts.)

At the time, the awards were only open to Delta elites and credit card holders. Now these discounted awards are bookable by everyone.

I did a lot of searching this morning, and I think I’ve sussed out the rules for these discounted awards to Europe.

  • Who can book the awards?
  • Where can you book from?
  • Where can you book to?
  • Which partners can be booked at discounted rates?
  • What dates are discounted?

Now Open to Everyone

Yesterday Delta said that elites and credit card holders were getting a one day pre-sale. That pre-sale has ended, and everyone can access the discounted awards in this post without even signing in to delta.com.

Discounted Region

The only discounted awards I see are to Europe. It would be nice if other regions were included in this deal! Let’s see if Delta adds other regions.

Discounted Routes & Partners

Yesterday, screen shots of discounted partner awards (flying KLM and Virgin Atlantic) surfaced. I cannot recreate those today. In fact, I found no discounted partner awards in my many searches. Please leave a comment if you can find a discounted partner award today. Until we find a discounted partner route today, it looks like the sale is for Delta-operated flights only.

Not all Delta flights/routes can be booked for the discounted prices. I’ll give a lot of examples of discounted routes in this post, but let me first give some routes on which I found no discounts:

  • New York to Madrid
  • Atlanta to Madrid
  • New York to Rome
  • New York to Nice, France
  • New York to Barcelona
  • Los Angeles to London

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.47.33 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.47.36 AM

The warm-weather lover in me notes that, other than Los Angeles to London, those destinations are in Southern Europe, which would be the most pleasant place to visit during this Fall and Winter sale.

If the route you want to fly isn’t mentioned in the excluded or included section, a search will quickly reveal if it has discounted award space.

Let us know the excluded/included routes you find in the comments.

Discounted Dates

Across all the routes I searched, the discounted awards all fall between October 20, 2015 and February 29, 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.14.08 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.16.09 AM

Let me know if you see discounted awards outside those dates in the comments.

Discounted Prices

If you fly all Delta flights during the discounted dates on included routes, you can get the following award prices:

  • From the Eastern and Central time zones plus Alaska to Europe for 21,000 SkyMiles each way in economy
  • From the Eastern and Central time zones plus Alaska to Europe for 43,500 SkyMiles each way in Business Class
  • From the Mountain and Pacific time zones plus Hawaii to Europe for 24,000 SkyMiles each way in economy
  • From the Mountain and Pacific time zones plus Hawaii to Europe for 50,000 SkyMiles each way in Business Class

I am not 100% sure that the break down is by time zone, but all the examples I found fit that pattern. If you find a discount that doesn’t fit that pattern, leave it in the comments, and maybe we can improve our understanding of the pricing.

Other Notes On Pricing

These awards are available one way. Roundtrip awards cost double. Mixing a discounted award with a partner award leads to the price you would expect. For instance, here is New York to Paris roundtrip in Business Class. One way is at the discounted price on Delta flights (43.5k) and the other is on a partner (62.5k). The total price is the sum: 106k.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.15.47 PM

Delta awards originating in Europe, whether one way or roundtrip, include fuel surcharges. Here is Paris to New York for 43,500 SkyMiles + $335 in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.04.11 PM

Examples

Here are the screenshots from which I drew the above conclusions.

Atlanta to Amsterdam for 21k/43.5k

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.14.01 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.16.47 AM

JFK to London for 21k/43.5kScreen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.17.14 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.19.03 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.19.10 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.20.03 AM

Detroit to London for 21k/43.5kScreen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.25.05 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.25.10 AM

Charlottesville, Virginia to London for 21k/43.5kScreen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.25.35 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.25.39 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.26.06 AM

Los Angeles to London for 30k/62.5k

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.26.50 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.26.54 AM

Minneapolis to London for 21k/43.5kScreen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.27.12 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.27.17 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.27.56 AMSalt Lake City to London for 24k/50k

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.29.16 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.29.37 AM

Houston and Dallas to London for 21k/43.5kScreen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.30.40 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.30.45 AM

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For a few years, Virgin Australia Business Class award space to Australia has been a gimme. I would often find 12 Award Seats (half of which were Business) to Australia over Christmas and New Year’s on Virgin Australia flights. You can book Virgin Australia award space with Delta miles.

Economy award space on Virgin Australia flights is still widely available, but Business Class award space is almost completely gone on Virgin Australia’s two American routes, Los Angeles to Sydney and Brisbane. This is terrible news, and I don’t think it’s a glitch.

Current Award Space Picture

Virgin Australia is still generously releasing economy award space. I searched for two passengers on direct flights from Los Angeles to Sydney in economy during February.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.37.10 PM

Award space is available every day, and this is almost all Virgin Australia space, not space on Delta’s flight.
Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.37.16 PM

But search the same route on the same dates in Business Class, and you get this calendar. There is no Virgin Australia award space, which would show up at 80,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.37.33 PM That is a shocker because Virgin Australia Business Class space, as recently as a few weeks ago, was available nearly every day.

But this isn’t some glitch. If you search this week, you will see there is one day with Virgin Australia award space in Business Class.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.38.06 PM

So the space can show up, but it just hasn’t been released by Virgin Australia on very many days.

It hasn’t even been released for next Summer, which is 11 months away and the Winter down under. Again no space:Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.38.55 PM I also searched the Los Angeles to Brisbane route, which I assume has less demand.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.39.48 PM

Again, the only Virgin Australia space I see is one day this week. Space is basically all gone on this route too.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.39.51 PM

In fact, most of my Los Angeles to Brisbane searches returned not a calendar, but an error, because there was literally no award space on direct flights on that route.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.40.06 PM

For kicks, I checked Sydney to Abu Dhabi, and again there is not really any Business Class space on Virgin Australia. This seems to be a concerted effort to release basically no Business Class award space on their longhaul flat bed product.

I did find space between Sydney and Bali, but it is operated by a 737, which does not have longahul Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.42.48 PM

Just Blocking Space to Delta?

I thought maybe Virgin Australia was just blocking award space in Business Class to Delta miles, so I signed into my Virgin Australia Velocity account and searched there.

Every day I searched had results like this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.49.36 PM

It looks like Business Rewards (basically Saver Business Class award seats) are not being offered to Velocity members either.

Bottom Line

Virgin Australia went from a glut of award space in Business Class from the United States to Australia that you could book with Delta miles to basically none.

This is not a glitch, and this affecting even members of the Virgin Australia frequent flyer program. Hopefully this terrible trend reverses.

Right now there are NO good options for Business Class awards to Australia or New Zealand that don’t transit Asia. Qantas, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Delta, American, and United are also very stingy with Business Class award space from North America to Australia and New Zealand.

Hat Tip to an email from Michael K. that made me investigate the drought of award space more systematically than I had been.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

5

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Update 8/19//15:

The glitch is fixed. One way search results now include partners as they should. Here’s a screen shot of Los Angeles to Sydney in February 2016 in Business Class. I can assure you that none of those days with 80,000 mile Saver seats are on Delta flights. 😉

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.19.08 PM

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Virgin Australia, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and Air France flights are not displaying on delta.com on one way searches. You can search them as part of roundtrip awards. You can book them by calling Delta at 800-323-2323.

Let’s take a look at the problem with Virgin Australia award space. The other partner space is behaving similarly.

For a few years, Virgin Australia has offered more award space to Australia than any other airline. I’ve seen Virgin release as much as 12 award seats on a single Virgin Australia flight during the Christmas and New Year high season, and all that space was a rare good use of Delta SkyMiles. Delta charges:

  • 50,000 miles one way in economy from the United States to Australia/New Zealand
  • 80,000 miles one way in Business from the United States to Australia/New Zealand

Virgin Australia award space always prices at these “Saver” levels, and Delta doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Virgin Australia flights.

Virgin Australia flies from Los Angeles to Brisbane and Sydney, and from those two cities it connects all over Australia and New Zealand. Connections to Los Angeles on Delta or Alaska flights and connections within Australia and New Zealand do not increase the miles price.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 2.09.33 PM

Virgin Australia Business Class features a flat bed and is being updated by early 2016 to an even nicer product.

Award Booking Trouble

Run a search in March for Los Angeles to Sydney one way in Business Class, and you will only get options for 175,000 SkyMiles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 2.00.59 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 2.01.06 PM

These are all the Delta flights. Virgin Australia flights don’t show up in the search results.Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 2.01.15 PM

If you do a roundtrip search though, Virgin Australia award space shows up and is bookable for 160,000 miles roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 2.21.13 PM

If you want to book a one way award, you can search roundtrip to find your award space and then call Delta at 800-323-2323 to book. I confirmed that the agent could see the Virgin Australia award space in Business Class from Los Angeles to Sydney on March 3rd for a one way booking.

Bottom Line

Virgin Australia, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and Air France flights are not displaying on delta.com on one way searches. You can search them as part of roundtrip awards.

I am fairly confident this is a glitch and that one way award searches will show partner award space again soon. But with Delta you never know.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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Update 8/11/15: The deal is now open to everyone. I have uncovered many of its secret rules.

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Delta Points got the following statement:

“There is a transatlantic fare sale going with a one day presale for Medallion/cobrand. It will be open to all as of tomorrow.”

So credit card holders and elites could book August 10, and everyone can book August 11. I’ll update when I can book the awards. I’d love more details on what the restrictions on the cheaper awards are.

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Delta Points reports seeing Delta awards from the United States to Europe for 21,000 SkyMiles one way. The normal minimum price is 30,000 miles each way.

He also reports Business Class awards on Delta, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic for 53,000 SkyMiles one way. The normal minimum price is 62,500 miles one way.

Then FlyerTalker “steveholt” found 87,000 mile roundtrips from New York-JFK to London in Business Class for the week of Thanksgiving. Delta Points found Newark to Amsterdam for the same price.

Unfortunately I can’t pull up any of these deals. Searching the same routes and dates brings up only 30,000 and 62,500 mile awards for me.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 9.30.17 PM
My Atlanta to Amsterdam Search Results

The working theory is that the discounted awards are only available to Delta elites who sign into their accounts before searching. I do not have Delta elite status. If you have Delta elite status, post your search results in the comments that are cheaper than Delta’s former award chart.

For now this sale is unconfirmed by Delta, so it is a possible glitch. I don’t think it is a glitch though. I think it is a step toward revenue-based pricing of awards. Many of the cheap awards found are at particularly cheap times to travel–for instance those 87,000 mile awards are in Business Class over Thanksgiving, which is a famously cheap cash ticket.

We will see if Delta gives us more details about which routes and dates are available for discounts or whether Delta says nothing. The latter is a strong possibility because one effect of not having an award chart is that you don’t need to explain price increases or sales. There are neither since there is no award chart as a basis for comparison.

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Earn 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

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I tweeted this deal first from @MileValueAlerts. Follow @MileValueAlerts on Twitter andfollow these directions to get a text message every time I tweet from that account. I tweet from @MileValueAlerts only a few times a month because it is designed to be used only for the best and most limited-time deals–like mistake fares–so that you aren’t bombarded by text messages.

Travel from Houston to Managua, Nicaragua for $172 roundtrip on Spirit Airlines this Summer and Fall. Travel from Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Miami to Managua for $246+ roundtrip on Delta this Summer and Fall.

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Contents:

  1. When are the $172+ fares?
  2. Why Nicaragua?
  3. Mileage Earning
  4. Best Credit Card to Buy the Ticket
  5. Copa Baggage Policy

$172 Roundtrip to Managua

Sample Dates: Houston to Managua, September 2 – 10, on Spirit

All of the flights in this post are roundtrips on Delta from American and United hubs (Gotta love competition!) except this Spirit fare out of Houston.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 3.20.28 PM

There are similarly cheap fares out of Houston the rest of the month.
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Search on ITA Matrix by calendar of lowest fares for acceptable trip lengths.

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Philadelphia

$247 roundtrips from August until November

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Dallas

$247 roundtrips from August until November
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Charlotte

$246 roundtrips from August to November

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 3.17.16 PMChicago

$326 roundtrips from August to November

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Miami

$247 roundtrips from August to November

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Select the number of nights you’d like the roundtrip to be by hovering over a date on the calendar.

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You cannot book on ITA Matrix. Instead note the dates and search on delta.com or spiritair.com.

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Why Nicaragua?

In the Spring of 2008, I went for a week and a half to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Lago Nicaragua was the highlight. I rented a Vespa and cruised around Isla Ometepe, composed of two volcanoes. I stayed at an awesome hostel and hiked one of the volcanoes to the crater lake on its summit.

I could easily have passed a relaxing week on the island. The views are stunning. Getting around on a scooter rental is fun. And the prices are dirt cheap.

If you want to go to Ometepe, go soon before the proposed Nicaragua Canal cuts through the lake.

I didn’t like Managua at all. Frankly, it scared me a bit.

I did not go to Granada, Nicaragua, a well-preserved colonial city. I think I would have really liked Granada based on my time in the similar Antigua, Guatemala.

You can also easily cross the land border to Costa Rica and see the Monteverde Cloud Forest like I did when I was in Nicaragua.

Mileage Earning

To non-elites, Delta offers 5 miles per dollar for tickets, so these tickets will barely earn 1,000 miles!

Spirit’s program expires miles after 90 days, so don’t invest much in that program.

Best Way to Buy the Ticket

Purchase your ticket with your Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the purchase of this ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy this fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement: a completely free ticket!

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.

See my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like it annual $250 Air Travel Credit, 50,000 point sign up bonus, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

My second choice would be the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which offers 3x on all travel and gas purchases and also has no foreign transaction fees. The card comes with 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

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Delta and Spirit Baggage Policy

Delta allows one free personal item, one free carry on, and charges $25 for the first checked bag and $40 for the second. Having a Delta credit card will get you a free first checked bag.

Spirit allows one free personal item and charges $35+ for a carry on bag and $30+ for a first checked bag. There are $9 discounts available for members of its $60+ per year “$9 Fare Club.”

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Hat Tip Secretly Flying

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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Delta is advertising a fare sale for travel from August 6 to December 16, and, in a first, is advertising a concurrent sale on the award prices on the same routes.

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.04.49 PM

There are 29 listed sale routes.

When 5,000 mile awards started in May, I wrote that this was mixed news:

  • Good: Some awards are 60% cheaper, and hopefully more routes with 5,000 mile award space are added.
  • Bad: By picking 5k routes on cheapness not distance, Delta is taking a step away from award charts (which it deleted from the internet already) and toward revenue-based redemptions. If Delta makes award redemptions based on the ticket price, Business Class awards, and all the other best values, will surge in (miles) price.

Since then, Delta has taken further steps toward revenue-based award redemptions, so forgive me for not being very excited about this sale, which also appears to be worse than previous sales. (See the section on city pairs below.)

Award Space

Award space is excellent at the 5,000 mile price on routes that are offering it. Here is Cincinnati to Memphis in October and November for four people.
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.06.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.06.53 PM

Routes with 7,500 and 10,000 mile awards also have great space. Here is New York to San Antonio in August and September.Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.07.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.07.39 PM

City Pairs

Previously, these discounted award segments could be added together, and the rules were like this:

  • At the time of research, no 5k segments could be added together.
  • Combine a 5k segment and a 10k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 5k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • Combine a 10k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.

Now the rules have changed. Here’s what the screenshots below show:

  • Combine a 5k segment and a 5k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 5k segment and a 10k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 7.5k segment and a 7.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.

I saw the pattern a few months ago, and I do not see it anymore, so I conclude that Delta has now set award prices based on city pairs–just like with revenue tickets–that have nothing to do with the prices of each segment.

Boise to Spokane: 10k miles

Boise to Seattle (5k) + Seattle to Spokane (5k) = 10k

Boise to Seattle: 5k miles

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.09.39 PM

Seattle to Spokane: 5k miles

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.09.58 PM

Boise to Spokane: 5k miles Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.10.11 PM

Phoenix to Spokane: 10k

Phoenix to Seattle (10k) + Seattle to Spokane (5k) = 10k
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.11.45 PM

Los Angeles to Bozeman: 12.5k

Los Angeles to Seattle (7.5k) + Seattle to Bozeman (7.5k) = 12.5k
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.12.28 PM

I don’t discern any pattern of the price for the trip based on the price of each segment, which leads me to believe that each city pair has a mileage price that is no dependent on the price of each segment.

Bottom Line

Certain Delta city pairs have awards as low as 5,000 miles one way for late Summer and Fall travel. Check out the full list here.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Award Space is widely available for two passengers on several routes to London in May and June 2016.

This is an excellent use of Delta SkyMiles because these awards cost 62,500 SkyMiles each way per person, despite Delta’s big devaluation last week. The award space is also an excellent use of ThankYou Points transferred to Virgin Atlantic miles during the current 25% transfer bonus. Some of the Upper Class award space goes for as little as 32,000 ThankYou Points each way per person.

About Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic flies from 12 American cities to London.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.27.50 PM

It also flies from the United States to Manchester, Glasgow, and Belfast.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.28.34 PM

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.29.29 PM

Booking Virgin Atlantic Awards

You can book Virgin Atlantic flights with Virgin Atlantic miles or Delta SkyMiles. The advantage of booking with Virgin Atlantic miles is that you need way fewer miles. Here is the roundtrip award chart to the United Kingdom with Virgin Atlantic miles. One way awards cost half the number of miles.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.02.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.02.35 PM

The drawbacks are that Virgin Atlantic awards booked with Virgin Atlantic miles have fuel surcharges and the prices are valid only to London, not the rest of Europe.

When booked with Delta, there are no fuel surcharges, and you can connect in London to other cities in Europe. All Delta awards that fly Virgin Atlantic cost 62,500 miles one way in Upper Class between the United States and Europe.

Fuel Surcharges

Just how big are the fuel surcharges?

Virgin Atlantic awards booked with Delta miles have no fuel surcharges. Virgin Atlantic awards booked with Virgin Atlantic miles have big fuel surcharges.

  • One way awards in economy to London have fuel surcharges of $129.
  • One way awards in Premium Economy to London have fuel surcharges of $229.
  • One way awards in Upper Class to London have fuel surcharges of $414 or $452, depending on flight length.

 

 

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Product

 

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class offers a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar.

 

Award Space Picture

I searched on delta.com for award space for two passengers in Business Class (Upper Class) on direct routes served by Virgin Atlantic. Here’s what you want the search box to look like to get a five-week calendar view of award space for two passengers on the direct flight only.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.13.25 PM

On many routes from the eastern United States, I found award space nearly every day.

Atlanta

All days that say “62,500” have award space for two passengers in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class that you can book with Delta or Virgin Atlantic miles.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.11.28 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.13.34 PM

New YorkScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.13.57 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.14.02 PM
MiamiScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.15.15 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.15.20 PM
ChicagoScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.15.38 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.15.44 PM
BostonScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.16.35 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.16.39 PM
DetroitScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.16.55 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.17.00 PM
Washington DCScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.18.19 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.18.25 PM

But the award space really falls apart on western routes. It is very sparse from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas to London.

 

Booking the Awards

First decide which miles to book with. If you want to burn Delta miles, or you hate fuel surcharges, book with Delta miles. If you have a cache of Virgin Atlantic miles or ThankYou Points, book with Virgin Atlantic miles. If you have both, figure out the cents-per-miles that each redemption offers, and choose the better one.

Book with Delta miles on delta.com and Virgin Atlantic miles on virgin-atlantic.com.

Pay your award taxes (and fuel surcharges if you use Virgin Atlantic miles) with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes and fuel surcharges.

 

Bottom Line

There is great award space for two passengers in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for two passengers in May and June 2016 on many routes from the eastern United States to London.

You can book the award space with 62,500 Delta miles plus taxes or 40,000 Virgin Atlantic miles plus taxes plus fuel surcharges. Right now there is a 25% transfer bonus from ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles.

This a great way to burn Delta miles in the face of the newest devaluation or to get great value from Citi ThankYou Points.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

9

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Delta has introduced revenue-based awards today and higher priced upgrades for travel beyond June 1, 2016. You can currently book award travel and upgrades through June 9, 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.46.12 AM

Delta’s Statement

Here’s what Delta says about the changes:

We know your miles are important, so we want to provide the most notice possible regarding Award price changes. For travel on or after June 1, 2016, the number of miles needed will change based on destination, demand and other considerations. But most Award prices will remain unchanged. To see the best availability and deals, search at least 21 days prior to departure and use our Award Calendar by selecting “flexible days” when searching for a flight.

Let’s go through this inanity line by line.

“We know your miles are important…”

Then why, Delta, do you make your miles the least valuable, and why did you eliminate your award charts?

“…so we want to provide the most notice possible regarding Award price changes.”

Then why, Delta, did you provide us with no notice? The changes aren’t for bookings made in 2016. The changes are for flights flown June 1, 2016 and later. Nine days worth of awards (June 1-9, 2016) have gone up in price today with no notice.

“For travel on or after June 1, 2016, the number of miles needed will change based on destination, demand and other considerations.”

  • Destination is already factored into the price via regions on your still-operating award chart that you removed from your website.
  • Demand is already factored into the price via the five levels of prices on your still-operating award chart that you removed from your website.
  • Other considerations” could literally mean anything. Now we literally have no idea what factors will impact the price of an award.

“But most Award prices will remain unchanged.”

It’s not even clear to me what this means. Is Delta saying it will stick with its five level, secret award chart most of the time? If so, under what circumstances will it deviate from that chart?

Let me know in the comments what this sentence means to you please.

“To see the best availability and deals, search at least 21 days prior to departure…”

Interesting that for the first time Delta admits that it jacks up mileage prices at 21 days before departure. United and American don’t do that–they tend to open more award space at the lowest levels then–but they do charge a $75 redemption fee within 21 days. (You can get around United’s.)

“…and use our Award Calendar by selecting “flexible days” when searching for a flight.”

Obviously search with the new award calendar to see five weeks of prices. But all five weeks might be too expensive.

What does it all mean?

I’m guessing that all this doublespeak means that Delta is going closer to full-blown revenue based awards for its own flights that depart June 2016 or later. I don’t think we’ll see full revenue based quite yet where one mile equals one cent toward the cash price of a flight in all cases. I think we’ll see some awards on an award chart, where there are still 12,500 mile awards domestically, but we’ll also see some outrageously expensive awards, far more expensive than current award charts, and more closely tied to the cash price of a flight.

I also think that we’ll see partner awards price out at the same price they currently do, which is Level 1 on Delta’s secret award chart. Hopefully this never changes, and hopefully you live in a city with SkyTeam partner flights, so you don’t need to connect Delta award space to partner award space.

What Does the Devaluation Look Like in Practice?

Here is Delta’s current, secret award chart for flights through May 31, 2016.

The most expensive (Level 5) Business Class award between the South Africa and the United States is 175,000 miles on that award chart. In June 2016, the direct Delta flights from Johannesburg to Atlanta cost 375,000 miles one way in Business Class every day. (The next three examples come from FlyerTalker Wiirachay.)

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 1.45.12 AM

Holy cow!Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 1.45.24 AM

Similarly, the highest price on the current award chart for Middle East to the United States is 162,500 miles, but a one way in Business Class from Dubai to Atlanta in June is pricing at 375,000 miles.Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 1.45.53 AM

Sydney to Los Angeles used to top out at 175,000 miles one way. For flights in June, it too is going for 375,000 miles one way! Note, however, that the partner flight on Virgin Australia is still pricing at the Level 1 price of 80,000 miles one way.
Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 1.46.23 AM

FlyerTalker javabytes wins the prize for finding the most expensive June 2016 award so far.Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 1.52.03 AM

Milwaukee to Auckland with three Delta flights and a Virgin Australia flight prices out at 415,000 SkyMiles one way. (I think the 415,000 mile example is a 375,000 mile award plus a 40,000 mile Virgin Australia award. It’s another issue entirely–and not a new one–that Delta’s computers adds up the price of Delta and partner flights separately when you combine them onto one award.)

So far we’re seeing direct Business Class awards top out at 375,000 miles one way or 750,000 miles roundtrip. That’s more than double the prices on the current award chart.

Luckily partner awards are the same price in June 2016 as they are now, and Delta Level 1 awards haven’t gone up in price.

Bottom Line on Award Price Changes

This change is BAD, and takes us one step closer to SkyMiles being worth a penny each. SkyMiles are the worst miles of any American airline.

But I will not abandon SkyMiles. There is not value in holding SkyMiles longeterm–I’m thrilled to have under 20,000 in my account–but there is still occasionally value in picking up one of their credit cards, getting the bonus, and booking an award quickly.

Speaking of credit cards? How will American Express react to this further devaluation of SkyMiles, since it is the issuer of Delta co-branded cards and Membership Rewards cards that earn points that be transferred to SkyMiles? At some point the average credit card user has to start reacting to the devaluation of SkyMiles and dump those cards.

Other Changes

Upgrades

“Miles needed to upgrade* will increase, and to provide greater access to these upgrades, we’ve expanded the eligible types of fares.

*Includes seats in Delta One, First Class and Business Class”

Of course, Delta “Delta-ed” (my new word for “obfuscated”) here and didn’t list the prices for award upgrades. But Delta flyers are figuring out the upgrade prices one at a time, and they are going at the top of this page. Increases in upgrade prices aren’t a big deal to me because upgrades were already a bad value. But still, check out how bad they are now for travel June 1, 2016 and later.

Example:

US-Europe:
Y/B/M: 60,000 miles
S/H/Q/K: 80,000 miles

If you buy a really expensive Y, B, or M  economy fare to Europe, you will need 60,000 miles to upgrade one way. This is a terrible deal since Level 1 awards start at 62,500 miles one way in Business Class. (Not to mention Aeroplan charges 45,000 miles and American charges 50,000 miles for one way awards to Europe in Business Class.)

If you buy a slightly less expensive S, H, Q, or K fare, you need 80,000 miles one way to upgrade.

If you buy the actual cheap fares (L, U, T, X, V, and E), you can’t upgrade at all.

You will NEVER get a high value Delta upgrade with these rules.

The Rest

The rest of the changes are so insignificant, and some aren’t even changes, that I suspect they were thrown in to obfuscate Delta the real changes to the award charts and upgrade charts. Check out all the changes here.

Bottom Line

SkyMiles are even less valuable today than yesterday. There are still more valuable uses of them and less valuable uses of them, so I’ll continue to keep an eye on the program and use it to my advantage.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Update 7/9/15: All these deals are dead. The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card has come out with an even better offer! 75,000 bonus points after spending $2k in the first three months.

Today (June 30) the 60k and 50k Delta credit card offers expire, the 50k Hilton credit card offer expires, and the ability to buy IHG points for 0.575 cents ends. It’s a big day for procrastinators.

I do not know the exact times the credit card offers end. If you click a link, and the offer is still there, it is still valid.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card with 50,000 Hilton Points after spending $1k in the first four months

Current Offer: 50,000 bonus Hilton points + $50 statement credit
Best Guess for Offer Tomorrow: 40,000 bonus Hilton points and no statement credit
Don’t Miss This Deal If: Some of the Category 1 (12 free nights) or Category 2 (6 free nights) Hilton properties appeal to you
Skip This Deal If: You want to stay at Category 3+ Hiltons (0-2 free nights)
Further Reading: How to Get 6 to 12 Free Nights from the Citi Hilton HHonors Card

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card offers 50,000 Hilton Points after spending $1k in the first four months and a $50 statement credit after spending $50 on your first stay at any hotel within the Hilton Portfolio during the first 3 months of account opening.

 

This card is designed for people who want to pursue the many-free-nights strategy with Hilton, taking advantage of underpriced 5,000 and 10,000 point hotels and the fifth-night-free benefit that cardholders get on all awards.

This card is terrible for people who want to stay at the fanciest Hiltons, which cost 95,000 points for a single night. They should get the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card with two free weekend nights worldwide at any Hilton after spending $2,500 in four months.

Check out How to Get 6 to 12 Free Nights from the Citi Hilton HHonors Card for an explanation of maximizing the card and examples of getting more than $1,000 in free hotel nights from the card’s sign up bonus.

Delta Platinum with 60k Bonus Miles + 10k MQM, Delta Golds with 50k Bonus Miles

Current Offer: Platinum offers 60k Bonus Miles + 10k MQMs, Delta Golds offer 50k Bonus Miles
Best Guess for Offer Tomorrow: 30k all three cards
Don’t Miss This Deal If: You want to fly to Australia, Central America, or South America or you want MQMs
Skip This Deal If: You’re planning a trip to Europe or within the United States or you’ve already had the Delta Gold personal or Delta Platinum
Further Reading: Delta 50k and 60k Offers End Tuesday, Get Them Now

The Platinum card is the card for people who want to earn Delta elite status with their purchases:

  • 60,000 bonus SkyMiles after spending $2,000 in the first three months
  • 10,000 MQM after spending $2,000 in the first three months
  • 15,000 MQM after spending $30,000 in a calendar year
  • Another 15,000 MQM after reaching $60,000 in a calendar year
  • 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases, 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
  • Free checked bag on Delta flights for you plus eight companions on the same reservation
  • $100 statement credit when you make a Delta purchase in the first three months
  • Priority Boarding on Delta
  • 20% off Delta onboard purchases
  • $195 annual fee, NOT waived

The Gold personal and business cards are the “standard” airline credit card:

  • 50,000 bonus SkyMiles after spending $2,000 in the first three months
  • 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases, 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
  • Free checked bag on Delta flights for you plus eight companions on the same reservation
  • $50 statement credit when you make a Delta purchase in the first three months
  • Priority Boarding on Delta
  • 20% off Delta onboard purchases
  • $95 annual fee, waived for the first 12 months

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 6.40.36 PM

These cards are really fantastically easy ways to get Delta miles, which are especially valuable to Australia on Virgin Australia and throughout the Americas on AeroMexico. There are generally better miles to other places, so skip these cards if you’re new to miles and want a trip somewhere else.

Check out Delta 50k and 60k Offers End 6/30, Get Them Now for an explanation of maximizing the cards.

Buy IHG Points for 0.575 Cents

Current Offer: Buy IHG Points for 0.575 cents
Best Guess for Offer Tomorrow: Buy IHG Points for 1.15 cents
Don’t Miss This Deal If: You need to get your balance to 5,000 points to prepare for PointBreaks lists
Skip This Deal If: You don’t have a hotel stay in mind that is cheaper this way than just paying for the hotel with cash
Further Reading: Buy IHG Rewards Points for 0.575 Cents Each, $29 Hotel Rooms

There is a 100% bonus on purchasing IHG Rewards points, so that the effective price is 0.575 cents per point. That’s great news if you want to get in on 5,000 point per night ($29) PointBreaks hotels. That’s not nearly as fantastic if you want to book 50,000 point per night ($288) hotels.

For full analysis, check out Buy IHG Rewards Points for 0.575 Cents Each, $29 Hotel Rooms.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Alitalia Business Class award space is wide open in Spring 2016 from New York and Boston to Rome for 62,500 Delta miles each way. Many days have three award seats in nearly flat beds. You can connect to New York on Delta flights for zero extra miles, award space permitting, and within Italy or Europe on Alitalia for zero extra miles.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 2.13.11 PM

  • What is the Alitalia Business Class product?
  • What is the award price with Delta miles?
  • What is the award space on Alitalia’s routes?
  • What connections are possible?
  • How do you book these awards?
  • How do you get Delta miles?

Alitalia Business Class Product

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 2.13.19 PM

Alitalia’s Business Class features a staggered layout similar to Austrian Airways’, which I reviewed in Trip Report: Austrian Business Class from Vienna to Chicago. Your feet go under the arm rest of the person in front of you.

Image from Austrian Business Class to show the staggered seats. Your feet go under his arm rest.

Though widely marketed as fully flat, my eyes tell me that Alitalia seats are not fully parallel to the ground.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 2.12.54 PM

You can still get a comfortable night sleep, but not quite as comfortable as you’d get from a fully-flat, parallel-to-the-ground bed.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 2.12.41 PM

Award Price

Delta charges 62,500 miles each way to Europe in Business Class. Alitalia awards originating in the United States, including one ways and roundtrips to Europe, do not incur fuel surcharges.

Alitalia awards originating in Europe, like one way trips home, do incur fuel surcharges, so don’t book one ways from Rome to the United States with Delta miles.

The miles price is the same from anywhere in the continental United States or Canada to anywhere in Europe, so adding connecting Delta or Alitalia flights will not change the miles price.

Roundtrip taxes to Rome should be $60 according to my List of Award Taxes from Major Cities in Europe, So You Return from Low Tax Countries.

Award Space

Alitalia flies year round from Boston, New York, and Miami to Rome. It serves Los Angeles and Chicago in the Summer.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.55.25 PM
Credit: gcmap.com

Award space is wide open from New York to Rome from January to May, 2016 (the end of the current 11 month booking window) for up to three passengers. Award space is good in 2016 from Boston to Rome.

New York to Rome

The following calendars show award space from New York to Rome for three passengers in Business Class on nonstop flights. Days that say 62,500 miles have three Business Class award seats on at least one Alitalia flight that day.
Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.56.41 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.58.21 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.58.07 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.57.51 PMThe calendars show that award space is wide open in 2016 from New York to Rome in Business Class on Alitalia flights.

Boston to Rome

Boston to Rome doesn’t have quite as much award space for two passengers, but there is still plenty of space in Spring 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.59.41 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.59.55 PM

Los Angeles to Rome

The other routes–from Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles–don’t have nearly as much award space. But there is a smattering of dates this summer from Los Angeles to Rome in Business Class with space for two.
Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 6.01.50 PM

Connections

Don’t think of this as award space to Rome. Think of it as award space to Europe. Here are Alitalia’s flights from Rome.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 6.18.44 PM

Any connection within Europe in Business Class adds zero miles to the 62,500 miles price. That’s pretty much every city in Italy and every major city in Europe.

You can also connect to New York in Delta or Alaska First Class for zero extra miles. While Alitalia award space intra-Europe is widely available, Delta First Class space is much less available. That means this Alitalia award space is primarily valuable for those living in New York and Boston. But if you’re flexible enough, you can find availability in Delta First Class.

Booking the Awards

Alitalia awards are searchable and bookable on delta.com. I’d book right there unless you need to book a mixed cabin award or you are getting an error online, in which case I’d call Delta at 800-323-2323 to book. Unfortunately Delta will charge you a phone booking fee of $25 per ticket. There is no way to hold award space with Delta miles.

Pay your award taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

Getting the Miles

Right now Delta miles are easier than usual to get. Both the personal and business versions of the Delta Gold card are offering 50,000 bonus SkyMiles after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Their $95 annual fees are waived for the first year.

The Delta Platinum card offers 60,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQM (status miles) after spending $2,000 in the first three months. The $195 annual fee is not waived, but it is partially offset by a $100 credit if you make a Delta purchase in the first three months.

These deals end June 30.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

Bottom Line

Award space is excellent in 2016 in a very good Business Class product from New York and Boston to Rome and the rest of Italy and Europe. Alitalia Business Class costs 62,500 Delta miles each way plus roundtrip taxes of about $60.

Award space is open for up to three people per flight.

Connections are widely available in Rome, and to a lesser extent within the United States.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

According to Delta’s SkyMiles FAQs, mixed cabin awards are no longer allowed.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.34.54 PM

Mixed cabin awards used to be explicitly allowed (and indeed this FAQ at a slightly different URL has the old language.)

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.35.00 PM

If mixed cabin awards were totally banned, that would terrible news. I can see three possible maladies:

  1. Delta has “five” cabins: economy, Business, Business Elite, First, and One. Each plane has only two cabins but the front cabin is branded several ways. Not being able to mix First (domestic) and One (international business) onto one award would make international awards nearly impossible and would be a ridiculous policy. This is, emphatically, not what the new prohibition means.
  2. Folks who live in small cities, served by economy-only regional jets would not be able to fly economy to the big city and connect to Delta One (international business). This is also definitely not what the new prohibition means.
  3. If you can’t book a one way award to Europe in economy with the return in Business Class for 92,500 miles, then you’d have to book those two awards separately for 30k + 62.5k. Delta awards originating in Europe (your one way return) incur fuel surcharges, so this will cost you a few hundred bucks extra compared to being able to book as one award! (Plus if you need to cancel later, you pay two cancellation fees!) The new prohibition will cause this situation.

We know that–for all Delta’s confusing branding–there are really only two cabins: economy and business.

A Delta spokesman told View from the Wing: “From a shopping perspective First and Business (Delta One) are one and the same ‘premium cabin’.”

So don’t worry about connecting domestic First Class to international Business Class, that’s only one cabin according to Delta.

We know that one-cabin planes will not cause problems.

A Delta spokesman told Delta Points: “When only Main Cabin is available on a flight segment due to aircraft configuration, that does not break the fare.”

You can confirm this online right now. Here is an award from Philadelphia to Rome via New York-JFK. Philadelphia to New York is operated by a one cabin plane, so the Business Class price of 62,500 miles includes that segment in economy and the transatlantic segment in Alitalia Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.28.05 PM

You can see that by clicking “Multiple Cabins” above the miles price to get this pop up.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.28.12 PM

And you can confirm the Delta flight only has one cabin by looking at its seat map by clicking “View Seats” below the itinerary’s times.Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.28.33 PM

3. But you cannot book mixed cabin roundtrips online–one way in economy and one in Business.

This is a problem. Say you want to book New York to Rome with the outbound in economy and return in Business Class. You can’t do that online, only both ways in economy for 60,000 miles or both ways in Business for 125,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.20.04 PM

You can book each direction as a one way award.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.23.15 PM

The problem is that the return is an award originating in Europe, meaning Delta slaps you with fuel surcharges.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.24.54 PM

While the Alitalia flight I showed above has fuel surcharges of only about $140 + taxes, many awards have fuel surcharges that are a lot higher. Delta from Paris to New York would cost over $340 one way between fuel surcharges and high taxes you can avoid if you read this.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.26.20 PM

At least for now, though, you can book a roundtrip award with one way in economy and one way in Business Class for the proper price by calling Delta at 800-323-2323. I just confirmed that by pricing New York to Rome with one direction in economy and one in Business at 92,500 miles. Who knows how long this loophole will last.

Bottom Line

Delta added scary sounding languages to its frequently asked questions, barring mixed-cabin awards.

Right now, you can still book mixed-cabin roundtrips by phone.

You will always be able to book mixed-cabin awards where one flight is in Business Class, and another flight is in economy on a one-cabin plane. You will always be able to fly all premium cabins no matter how Delta has branded them (eg mixing BusinessElite and One.)

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Yesterday I reported that some Delta domestic awards cost only 5,000 SkyMiles one way, a 60% discount on the prevailing 12,500 mile rate we expect from legacy carriers. Other routes cost 10,000 SkyMiles one way. From playing around on delta.com, I’ve discovered a few more things.

  • So far, there are no known 5k segments that can be combined onto one award, so we don’t know how that would price.
  • Combine a 5k segment and a 10k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 5k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • Combine a 10k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • City pairs do not have a price. Segments have a price. (Explained below.)
  • All 5k and 10k awards are only bookable for flights through December 31, 2015.

Segments Have a Price, Not City Pairs

  • A “city pair” is your departing and arrival city no matter how many stops you have in between.
  • A “segment” is one wheels up and wheels down of an airplane.

The 5k and 10k prices we’ve uncovered on delta.com are for segments, not for city pairs. How do I know? Portland/San Francisco as a city pair doesn’t have just one price. The direct flight costs 12,500 miles. The routing via Seattle costs 10,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.50.21 PM

Why is that? Because Delta has clearly assigned prices to each segment.

  • The Portland-to-San-Francisco segment costs 12,500 SkyMiles as we can see above.
  • The Portland-to-Seattle segment costs 5,000 miles.
  • The Seattle-to-San-Francisco segment costs 10,000 miles.

Proof SEA-SFO segment is 10k:

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.51.31 PM

Proof SEA-PDX is 5k:Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.51.58 PM

When you fly a connecting domestic Delta award itinerary in which one segment prices at one price and the other at another, you just pay the higher segment price.

That’s why PDX-SFO is 12,500 miles and PDX-SEA-SFO is 10,000 miles.

You can see this rule over and over if you try to combine a 5k and 10k segment, a 5k and 12.5k segment, or a 10k and 12.5k segment.

For instance, San Diego to Sacramento prices at 10,000 miles via Los Angeles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 4.23.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 4.23.52 PM

That’s because the San Diego-to-Los-Angeles segment costs 10,000 miles, the Los-Angeles-to-Sacramento segment costs 5,000 miles, and delta.com goes with the higher price on connecting itineraries.Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 4.24.52 PM

This logic implies that combining two 5k segments would cost just 5,000 total miles. Unfortunately we can’t test that because no two current 5k segments can be combined into a legal route.

I tried to combine the Sacramento-to-Los-Angeles and Los-Angeles-to-San-Jose 5k segments, but that’s not a legal routing, so I got this error.Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.47.10 PM

All the 5k and 10k segments disappear after December 31

When Delta first made some SkyMiles awards 10,000 miles in March, they put out a press release and said that the discount was for awards flown by December 31, 2015 only. That rule appears to still be in place for both the 5k and 10k awards.

San Diego to Los Angeles only offers 10k awards until December 31, and the best price after that is 12,500 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.56.27 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.56.34 PM

Similarly, Seattle to Portland jumps to 12,500 miles from 5,000 miles after December 31.Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.55.26 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.55.33 PM

That’s everything my digging has uncovered:

  • So far, there are no known 5k segments that can be combined onto one award, so we don’t know how that would price.
  • Combine a 5k segment and a 10k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 5k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • Combine a 10k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • City pairs do not have a price. Segments have a price.
  • All 5k and 10k awards are only bookable for flights through December 31, 2015.

Do you have any questions? Have you uncovered anything else?

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Delta SkyMiles have access to the best award space to all of Argentina–not just Buenos Aires–year round in economy and Business Class.

The backbone of the award space is AeroMexico availability on its daily flights from Mexico City to Buenos Aires. This award space is available for 2+ people in economy and 2+ people in Business Class on the vast majority of flights for the next year. Four flights weekly on the route are even on AeroMexico’s newest plane, the 787 Dreamliner with flat bed seats.

Unlike the Dreamliner Business Class award space to Argentina on United, you don’t have to end your Delta award in Buenos Aires because Delta also partners with Aerolineas Argentinas, which you can fly to a eight other major destinations for zero extra miles on the same award.

  • What is the award space with Delta SkyMiles to Buenos Aires?
  • How is the AeroMexico Dreamliner?
  • Where else can you go in Argentina?

Delta has terrible award space on its own flights from Atlanta to Buenos Aires, but partner AeroMexico releases a ton of award space from the United States to Mexico City and from there to Buenos Aires in economy and Business Class. All Delta partner awards from the United States mainland to Argentina cost:

  • 30,000 SkyMiles one way in economy
  • 62,500 SkyMiles one way in Business Class

Just how good is AeroMexico award space?

AeroMexico Award Space

Every day below that says “65,000” has award space for two people in Business Class from Mexico City to Buenos Aires. (Oddly Delta charges more from Mexico to Argentina than from the United States. When we start our award in the United States, we’ll pay just 62,500 miles.)

Other than some missing days around Christmas–and even then there’s space if you’re flexible–you can see there is award space for two people in Business Class from Mexico City to Buenos Aires almost every day.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.19.37 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.20.28 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.22.01 PM

The pattern is the same from Buenos Aires back to Mexico City. What about getting between the United States and Mexico City?

Award Space Between the United States and Mexico

Researching this article, I was very surprised how many AeroMexico flights there are between the United States and Mexico. Here’s a combined route map for Delta and AeroMexico flights between the United States and Mexico City.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 6.21.09 PM
Source: gcmap.com

Notes: BOS-MEX begins June 1, 2015. Fresno only has a direct AeroMexico flight to Guadalajara where you can connect to Mexico City.

If you live in any of the cities on the map, you can get to Buenos Aires with only one connection in Mexico City. While the Delta flights (Atlanta, Detroit, Salt Lake City) don’t have very good award space to Mexico City, the AeroMexico flights have amazing award space for two people in either cabin.

For instance, here is the award space for two people this Argentine Spring–October and November are a fantastic time to visit–from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 1.50.16 PM

There is award space every day. All of it features an AeroMexico flight from Mexico City to Buenos Aires, though some of it features an Alaska Airlines flight to Mexico City.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 1.53.05 PM

Award space is similarly excellent from Argentina back to the United States. For instance, award space for two people in economy and Business Class from Buenos Aires to Washington DC also shows award space almost every day.

Again, the backbone of this space is AeroMexico availability via Mexico City, but there are also options that fly Aerolineas Argentinas via New York. (AR1300 below)

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 1.55.24 PM

Connections in Argentina

All of these awards land at Buenos Aires Ezeiza airport (EZE). Most domestic flights in Argentina leave Aeroparque (AEP), which is much closer to the city, but Aerolineas Argentinas does operate some flights from EZE to the rest of the country including great tourist spots like Iguazu, Mendoza, Bariloche, Calafate, and Ushuaia.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.05.20 PM
Source: gcmap.com

You can add Aerolineas award space to your award for zero extra miles, but you can’t do it online.

You can search the award space on delta.com, like this search from EZE to Ushuaia that shows plenty of Business Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.02.35 PM But when you try to add the intra-Argentina segment to an international award, you get an error like this despite there being legal award space. Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.03.17 PM

The solution? Call Delta 800-323-2323 if you want to book your Argentina award with intra-Argentina award space.

AeroMexico Dreamliner

Four days a week, AeroMexico flies its new 787 Dreamliner between Mexico City and Buenos Aires. The rest of the flights are operated by 767s. AeroMexico also flies its Dreamliner on some New York <-> Mexico City and Los Angeles <-> Mexico City flights.

The Dreamliner has fully flat beds in Business Class in a 2-2-2 configuration, so, as usual, pick a middle seat if you’re flying alone to avoid having to climb over or be climbed over by anyone else.

God Save the Points has a review of Business Class on the AeroMexico Dreamliner. The review is complimentary of the seat, bed, and entertainment though it refers to the crew as “ghosts, you know those things you can’t see, talk to or receive a drink from.” [Scott: hahaha, I believe it]

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.44.10 PM
AeroMexico Dreamliner in reclined, but not yet flat, position. Source: http://www.godsavethepoints.com/news/dreamlinerreview

Try your hardest to fly a day served by the 787, because the 767 doesn’t feature fully flat beds.

Bottom Line

Argentina can be a tough award ticket. There’s almost no space on American Airlines flights to Argentina for most of the next year. United has amazing award space some days, but none for months at a time.

The solution is to use Delta miles on AeroMexico flights. Fly from over a dozen airports to Mexico City and connect to the AeroMexico Dreamliner to Buenos Aires. You’ll pay only 30,000 SkyMiles in economy or 62,500 SkyMiles in Business Class each way for a fully flat bed.

Your award doesn’t have to end in Buenos Aires. You can connect from there to eight cities in Argentina on Aerolineas Argentina for no extra miles, but you’ll have to call to book an award like that.

Further Reading

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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